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First-ever manufacturers expo scheduled next week in Colorado Springs

Rich Laden | The Gazette

A first-of-its-kind event designed to showcase the products and goods of local manufacturers — and provide a venue where manufacturers can network and tout careers available in their industry — will take place next week in Colorado Springs.


SOCOM EXPO 2014, a two-day showcase of the Pikes Peak region’s manufacturing industry, will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Freedom Financial Services Expo Center, 3650 N. Nevada Ave. There will be display booths, which the public can visit for free, and a series of conferences featuring local and national speakers.

The cost to attend those conferences is $30 for nonexhibitors and members of the public.

More information: www.socomexpo.com. To register for the conferences, and to see a lists of speakers, click on the “conference” tab.


Pikes Peak Community College will hold an Advanced Manufacturing Forum on Thursday at the school’s Centennial Campus Theater, 5675 S. Academy Blvd. Students and members of the community are invited to attend the free event, connect with local manufacturers and learn more about PPCC’s manufacturing degree and certificate programs.

Two identical sessions — 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. — will include a panel discussion with local industry experts; videos from local manufacturers highlighting their technologies; tours of the college’s manufacturing shop; and information from advisers on available programs, degrees and career opportunities.

More information: Email Mike Couillard, the college’s CHAMP grant program manager and forum organizer, at mike.couillard@ppcc.edu.

Related: Shale energy is reviving US manufacturing

The SOCOM (Southern Colorado Manufacturing) Expo 2014 will be held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Freedom Financial Services Expo Center.

Nearly 60 manufacturers and related companies, business and trade groups, nonprofits and schools will have display booths at the two-day event, which the public can attend for free.

Conferences on manufacturing-related topics, featuring local and national speakers, also will take place during the event. Nonexhibitors and members of the public must pay $30 to attend the conferences; that fee will cover the speakers over the two days.

The manufacturers expo is being spearheaded by manufacturing companies affiliated with the Southern Colorado Business Partnership and the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, said Tom Neppl, president and CEO of Springs Fabrication and board chairman of the business alliance. Several area companies and business groups also are sponsoring the event.

The state of manufacturing is on the rise, Neppl said. Even though Colorado Springs has lost semiconductor jobs that were classified as manufacturing, the industry is growing nationally at a 4 percent annual clip, he said.

“The industry is very strong and growing, and we want to get our piece of that here,” Neppl said.

But some local companies can’t find enough skilled workers, he added, and that’s where the expo will play a key role: raising awareness among the general public about manufacturing and making sure that area residents, schools and especially young people know that job and career opportunities exist, Neppl said.

To help boost that awareness among young people, up to 1,800 middle school, high school and college students will pass through the expo, thanks to an El Pomar Foundation contribution to provide bus service, he said.

“There are opportunities for kids, career opportunities,” Neppl said. “A lot of the schools have done away with their vocational programming. We think that’s a mistake.”

The expo is being planned as an annual event.


Contact Rich Laden: 636-0228

Twitter: @richladen

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